Jefferson First Hospital in City to Offer New, Non-Invasive Tinnitus Treatment

PHILADELPHIA — The Jefferson Balance and Hearing Center of the Department of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital is the first hospital in Philadelphia to offer the FDA-cleared Neuromonics Tinnitus Treatment. This therapy is proven to interact, interrupt and desensitize tinnitus by delivering a customized neural stimulus, embedded in clinically modified music.

“Tinnitus is an awful, debilitating condition that can have a devastating impact on a patient’s quality of life,” said Thomas Willcox, M.D., medical director. “This new treatment represents a significant step forward for a condition with traditionally limited therapeutic options. By targeting underlying neurological and psychological causes, it has been proven to offer long-lasting benefit.”

Tinnitus is the perception of sound in the ears or head when no external source is present. Often described as "ringing in the ears," it affects as many as 50 million people in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that one million new cases of tinnitus are identified each year, 200,000 of which are severe. Tinnitus symptoms can negatively impact normal daily activities and can lead to additional medical conditions, such as anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation and elevated stress.

Tinnitus is not simply an auditory problem, but also has a neurological and psychological basis. While most tinnitus cases are preceded by hearing loss, neurological factors often contribute to the deterioration in symptoms. First, the brain attempts to compensate for the hearing loss by “turning up” sounds internally. Ultimately a psychological component emerges, when the sufferer develops a “fight-or-flight” stress response to the debilitating sounds. The patient then focuses more attention on the tinnitus, perceiving it as louder and louder. Tinnitus takes increasingly significant control over their life. Thus begins a vicious cycle involving neurological, psychological and auditory factors.

Neuromonics’ non-invasive, FDA-cleared device is customized to the patient's unique hearing and tinnitus profile. It delivers a customized neural stimulus that promotes neural plastic changes, allowing the brain to filter out the disturbing tinnitus sound. This stimulus is delivered within spectrally modified, customized music, which engages the brain's emotional response center, the limbic system, and thereby reduces tinnitus-related disturbance.

The therapy is delivered via a compact, lightweight and uniquely designed medical device. Treatment typically occurs over an approximately six-month period, with daily use recommended for two or more hours per day, especially when the tinnitus is most disturbing. The treatment can take place during regular activities such as reading, relaxing or computer work. It involves a multi-stage process designed for optimal clinical results.

EF – 9/09